Did You Know – About Hepatitis?

By A/Prof (Adj) Lim Poh Lian – Head, THVC

28 JULY 2012 IS WORLD HEPATITIS DAY.

1. DID YOU KNOW… hepatitis is caused by more than 1 virus?

Fact

  • Hepatitis refers to infection of the liver. While liver infection can be caused by other viruses such as Epstein Barr virus (EBV) or cytomegalovirus (CMV), when doctors talk about viral hepatitis, they usually mean hepatitis A, B, or C. There is also hepatitis D and E!

2. DID YOU KNOW… you can catch hepatitis from food & water exposures?

FACT

  • Although many people are aware of hepatitis A risk from eating cockles or seafood, hepatitis A and E can be spread through consuming contaminated food, water, ice. Risk for hepatitis A and E infection is higher in developing countries.

3. DID YOU KNOW… you can catch hepatitis from sex, needles, and receiving blood?

FACT

  • Unlike hepatitis A & E, hepatitis B, C, and D are spread by sexual contact with someone who is infected, contaminated needles or blood transfusions, or in an infant, being born to a mother with chronic infection.
  • However, hepatitis D infection only occurs in people who already have chronic hepatitis B infection.

4. DID YOU KNOW…people actually do die from hepatitis infection?

FACT

  • For every 1000 older persons (age > 50) who catch hepatitis A, 18 will die of it (US CDC Health Information for Inernational Travel 2012)
  • Pregnant women who get infected with hepatitis E also have a higher risk of death from that infection.

5. DID YOU KNOW… hepatitis infection can result in cancer?

FACT

  • Unlike hepatitis A and E, those infected with hepatitis B and C can develop chronic infection.
  • Chronic hepatitis B and C carriers have higher risk of liver cancer and should have regular medical check-ups. Their spouses and sexual partners should also use safer sex precautions.

6. DID YOU KNOW… hepatitis A and B can be prevented by vaccines?

FACT

  • Hepatitis A vaccine is a 2-dose series, given 6 months apart.
  • Hepatitis B vaccine is a 3-dose series, given at 0, 1, and 6 months.
  • If you need both, the combination hepatitis A+B vaccine is 3-doses, given at 0, 1, and 6 months, similar to hepatitis B vaccine.
  • There are currently no vaccines against hepatitis C, D or E.

ASK YOUR DOCTOR about hepatitis A or B vaccine if you want to be protected against these infections.